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Ab Workouts for Women: 10 Ways to a Tight Tummy!

By: Holly Smith, M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

ab workouts for women

Having toned, sculpted abs may seem impossible, but with dedication, commitment, and the right ab workouts for women, anyone can get great looking core!

By combining core cardio and strength training you will be well on the way to this goal.

And while looking great is one benefit, a strong core is also a sign of overall strength and fitness.

Having powerful abdominal muscles allows you to do all of your other exercises and day-to-day activities more easily and decreases your risk of injury.

In order to get sculpted abs, you need to focus on all aspects of health, including strength training, cardiovascular fitness, and healthy eating.

Step one is picking the most effective ab workouts for women that target all of the abdominal muscles.

These include the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and transverse abdominis.

Get started today with our 10 favorite ab workouts for women!

Here are some more core workouts for women that will help you tone that tummy!

Burn Calories and Shed Fat to Get Great Abs

If you want great looking abs you don’t only need strong core muscles, you also need to shed the layer of fat around your midsection.

Not only will this get you a toned belly, but will also make you healthier overall.

Fat in the abdomen is also known as visceral fat. This can cause a number of health problems.

In fact, high amounts of visceral fat are correlated with increased cardiovascular risk factors.

And, a study from JAMA found that abdominal fat is related to higher mortality in postmenopausal women, even if they were at a normal weight!

This study also showed that central obesity was correlated with a higher risk for cancer mortality as well as all-cause mortality.

Since core exercises involve both cardio and strengthening muscles in your midsection, you will decrease this central fat and decrease your risk for lifelong health issues.

Some people think that you can get six-pack abs by doing hundreds of crunches.

Unfortunately, you can’t spot-reduce fat.

This means only focusing on the core won’t get you sculpted abs without adding some cardio as well.

You need to perform full-body exercises with a core focus that burn calories so you can shed the layer of fat covering your abdominal muscles.

This will give you a great-looking midsection, plus it will improve your fitness and decrease your risk of chronic health problems.

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Strength Training Is Also Required

Another misconception is that if you can just lose belly fat, then you will be able to see your ab muscles.

You may have heard that “abs are made in the kitchen.”

And while there is truth to this, the fact is you will never see your abdominal muscles just by losing fat.

In order to get a toned stomach, you have to strength train them just like any other muscle group.

This is where ab exercises come into play.

Performing a combination of strength training and isometric ab moves three to four times a week, you will be on your way to some amazing abs.

Find out why strength training is one of the most important things you can do for longevity.


The Top 10 Ab Workouts For Women

You can choose three or four of these exercises to add to your workout routine three times a week to get the best results.

Like any muscle group, you want to give yourself around 48 hours of recovery between hard workouts.

These exercises will hit your abs from all angles, and will also engage all of the stabilizing core muscles around your spine and low back.

Aim for three sets of each exercise.

Hip Dips

No, we're not talking about those hip dips, these hip dips are a variation on the plank exercise that will target your transverse abdominis and obliques.

  • Start in a standard plank with your forearms on the floor and elbows directly underneath your shoulders.
  • Rotate your hips to the left side and tap the floor.
  • Then rotate to the right side and tap the floor.
  • Continue alternating sides for 30 seconds.

Hanging Leg Raises

Exercises that isolate your lower abs are hard to find.

While you can’t completely isolate the lower abs, hanging leg raises are a great way to put more emphasis on these muscles.

  • Start by hanging from a pull-up bar.
  • Keep your legs together and raise them up until they are parallel with the floor.
  • Try to keep your upper body as still as possible without swinging.
  • Hold for a 1-2 second pause, then slowly lower your legs.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.
  • If this is too hard, you can bend your knees to start.

Bear Crawl Shoulder Tap

This is a great exercise to engage your entire midsection, and even work the shoulders a bit at the same time.

  • Start on your hands and knees.
  • While keeping your back flat and your butt down, lift your knees off the floor about 1-3 inches.
  • Stare at the floor a few inches in front of your hands to keep your neck from arching.
  • Tap your right hand to your left shoulder and then bring that hand back to the ground.
  • Then bring your left hand to your right shoulder, and back down again.
  • Continue alternating sides for 30 seconds.
  • Be sure to keep your back flat and try not to swing your hips while moving your arms.

Mountain Climber

We all know that planks are an awesome core workout.

Well, mountain climbers are basically the cardio equivalent.

You can think of it as a moving plank.

  • Start in a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders.
  • Drive your right knee to your chest and tap your right foot to the floor then quickly move it back to the starting position.
  • Then repeat this on the left.
  • Continue alternating legs back and forth as quickly as you can for 30 seconds.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are an amazing way to work your abs and prove that there is so much more to a core workout than just crunches.

Plus, this will burn some serious calories while strengthening the core.

  • Hinge forward at your hips while holding a kettlebell down in front of you.
  • Bring the kettlebell between your legs, thrust your hips forward, and swing the kettlebell to about shoulder height.
  • Control the movement back down and repeat 12-15 times.

Dragon Flag

The dragon flag is an intense core workout that really engages your abs.

This is a very tough move, so don’t be discouraged if you can only do a few reps at first!

  • Lie on a decline or regular bench and grab the edge of it behind your head.
  • Swing your feet upward until your body is almost vertical while keeping your shoulder blades on the bench.
  • Keep your core tight and your body as straight as possible.
  • Slowly lower your feet under control until they are just above the bench.
  • Lift your legs back up in the air again to complete a rep.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

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This cardio and ab exercise serve double duty by working the core and burning a ton of calories at the same time.

A study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research even found that body-weight burpees elicit higher metabolic demands than traditional strength training exercises!

  • Start in a standing position and lower your body to place your palms on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  • Kick your legs back so that you are in a push-up position.
  • Do one push-up, then jump your knees back into your chest.
  • Explode up into the air for one rep.

Plank Walk Out and Hold

Don’t let the name fool you!

This is actually an awesome exercise that will get you a killer core.

  • Start in a plank, or push-up position, with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Engage your core as you walk your hands forward slowly while keeping your feet in place.
  • Walk forward your hands as far as you can then hold for 3-5 seconds.
  • Then slowly walk back to the starting position.
  • Repeat this for 8-10 reps.

Russian Twist

This move targets your obliques, and adding a dumbbell or medicine ball adds an additional strength training element.

  • Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your butt while holding a dumbbell.
  • Lean slightly back but be sure to keep your back straight.
  • Twist to the left, bringing the weight to your left side, then rotate to the right.
  • This completes one rep.

Decline Weighted Sit Up

This exercise is a great way to add resistance work to your core training.

Plus, this movement forces you to work against gravity and with a greater range of motion.

  • Sit on the bench with bent knees and your feet under the padded bar.
  • Hold a dumbbell, weight plate, or medicine ball across your chest or above your head.
  • Raise your torso up to bring your chest to your thighs.
  • Pause here for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat 12-15 times.

This ab workout contains our favorite exercises for getting a strong and toned core!

Holly Smith

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on ab workouts for women.

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